Do People Prefer to Travel North or South?

People have a tendency to travel south rather than north, because northern routes intuitively seem harder. A study in Memory & Cognition showed that people tend to overestimate the time it takes to travel northern routes, in many cases by more than an hour. Interestingly, travelers appear to have no bias when it comes to choosing eastern and western routes.

More facts about the North-South bias:

  • According to a study from the University of Yale, consumers think of traveling northern routes as being more expensive than traveling southern routes, since people tend to sense northern movement as being difficult. The study also showed that consumers expect to pay more to ship packages north than south.

  • The north-south bias also shows up in people's estimation of the cost of moving. Participants in a 2009 study routinely associated moving to a more northern house as being more expensive than moving to a more southern house. The study also showed that people tend to think that more northern locations have a higher cost of living.

  • The American Marketing Association found that if given the choice, people tend to visit stores to the south of their homes, but only when convenience is their primary concern.

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